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Will google change the game by Open Sourcing VP8?


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#1 of 4 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted April 29 2010 - 03:42 AM

http://newteevee.com...or-html5-video/

Why X264, while "royalty free" isn't free:
http://arstechnica.com/media/news/2010/02/royalty-free-codec-still-needed-despite-no-cost-h264-license.ars

And the FSF's note:

http://www.fsf.org/blogs/community/google-free-on2-vp8-for-youtube

For those that are wondering how this breaks down, the short:
On the web you have several video formats, but primarily they are:

WMV/ASF/VC1:  Streaming branching CODECSs, sponsored by MS, and then later made open, now under a governing body.  The only purpose for these at this point is bi-directional communication (think video conferencing), or security monitoring, because of their ridiculously small bandwidth.. but as a result, putting aside vc1, not so good quality.

MPG: The age old, the only universal support, but low quality.

FLV/Flash: Flash Video.  Adobe.

H264: MPEG-LA's patent holding CODEC, currently used pretty much everywhere.  Royalty free on distribution (though initial licensing as etc. must be paid to the body, normally not by the end user)

OGG-Theora:  An Open Source CODEC, about 7 years old.  Widespread support.  Not so good quality.


VP8 is On2's format.

Pros:
* Completely open source as the patent holder is saying it intends to go permanently royalty and licensing free.
* Equal to slightly higher quality then x264.
* Very, very low CPU usage in comparison to other products to get 1080P at a much lower bitrate while maintaining quality:
http://www.dspdesignline.com/214303691?printableArticle=true   (example: a 60Mhz ARM decodes 1080P)
* More then Apple's announcement today, opening up VP8 is a killer for something like Flash.  Unlike H264, the easy implementation of user-led encoding with much faster encode times and smaller files make it more available to the average joe consumer.

Cons:

* It's again, a new format.  This will be an easy adoption for open devices because if Google does make this open, you can count on this showing up on every Android phone, used in Youtube, etc.  But new formats mean locked devices will have difficulty joining in.

* Your early supporters are: Google (of course), Mozilla, Opera.  Who's not in that list?  Apple and Microsoft.   If Google decides to move Youtube toward a VP8 standard instead of H264 - which is possible, especially since the encoding process and storage would immediately mean less pressure on their servers, you'd have another row about what content is now available where.

* HTML5 is not ratified.  And one of the sticking points has been video standards.  Despite the thought that "oh, it's H264", it isn't.  There have been numerous who have argued for Ogg-Theora, because of it's open standard.  If google and Mozilla back VP8 over H264, and make it licensing free, they could win the backing of several other providers, and their access to content could change the idea of what web video is.

But now that this appears a done deal, as it had been rumored all through this morning, but word is on everywhere that VP8 is coming to all Android and google will make it open, this may make a very positive change for web creation.
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#2 of 4 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted May 06 2010 - 01:53 AM

I've followed this topic with special interest, because On2 is a local company in my area. Apple stands to get a sliver of the royalties from MPEG-LA from H.264 when the free license expires so they're unlikely to support any other format in the near-term. IE9 will exclusively support H.264 for the HTML5 <video> tag. Most devices that have hardware acceleration for H.264 won't have it for VP8.

...All of that being said, Google owns YouTube, which has 60 percent of the world's internet video. If they decide to move exclusively to VP8, you're going to see VP8 plugins pretty much installed universally. And Firefox and Chrome will have native support.


#3 of 4 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted May 06 2010 - 02:52 AM

I'm not sure you can say "no hardware acceleration support"  apparently, all ATI/Nvidia GPUs, including mobile, because of their VP7/VC1 acceleration will natively grab this.  Since VP7 acceleration is supported on Blackberry going back to the Curve 8300, all of them would have hardware acceleration support.  (VP7 was the design format for the ATT MobleTV offering a few years ago)

Just a thought.  I do agree.. H264 will likely have significant large support.  But while the end user doesn't pay the license now, distributors do.  For Mozilla to add H264 native support has an estimated cost of around $11M, if the ESF is correct.  Microsoft already pays in triple that.  (the fees are then rolled out to patent groups etc.).. So right now, because MS licenses more then any, in some ways they pay in to get paid back out ;)  Which is true of all.. but it does help Apple and other holders a bit more.

But for someone like Mozilla, a NFP group, throwing a few million at licensing isn't so popular or really feasible.

It wold be more beneficial to everyone if a completely open open licensing standard was adopted.   But sometimes, that's how it goes.

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#4 of 4 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted May 09 2010 - 05:50 PM

The other thing that's important is that VP8 will presumably have the full backing of the Google legal machine after it's open sourced. The biggest strike against Ogg Theora (other than the fact that it's significantly outdated compared to H.264) is that its legality has never been tested. VP8 would definitely get sued by a broad group of patent holders, and surviving that onslaught would make third-party developers much more comfortable using it than they have with Ogg Theora.




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